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How to photograph cars … using Gran Turismo 5

| December 13, 2010 | 2 Comments
Are you interested to learn how to photograph cars ? As a photo enthusiast who appreciates beautiful exotic car photos, i was looking for a way to learn how to shoot better car photos. This article offers a different angle on how to improve your car photos using only your Playstation 3 and Gran Turismo 5

Ferrari California in San Galgano Abbey

You could be shooting car photos like this in no time

Shoot exotic sports cars…without the cars

There are not many photographers today that have been blessed with opportunities to shoot exotic cars in beautiful and exotic locations. If you are photography beginner or an enthusiast with an average day job, let’s face it, your chances of shooting exotic cars are pretty slim. Best chance for such a photo is if one of your friends owns one, or if you stumble upon such a vehicle somewhere in the city, and when you do, you will only have a limited window for shooting such a photo.

Not like that

When I ment use Gran Turismo 5 to learn how to photograph cars, this is NOT what i had in mind.

However, if you own a Playstation 3 and a copy of Gran Turismo 5 game, you just might have all of the tools necessary to significantly boost your car photography skills. Although it does sound a bit absurd, i recommend that you give it a go. Your kid might not be happy with dad snatching ps3 to practice car photography.

Gran Turismo 5 features a full on photo mode, where you can choose your location, and take one of your cars for a real photography shoot. The interesting part is that you have a complete control over where you will shoot your car, where will the car be positioned, and where will you stand when shooting, thus impacting your composition. When you finally start shooting, you will notice you have pretty much all of the camera controls there: Aperture, Shutter speed, ISO, White Balance, Autofocus, Exposure Compensation, and ability to zoom/unzoom, and control the lens focal length. If that is not enough for you, you can experiment with different aspect ratios, filters, as well as try panning (in replay mode only).

How does it work ?

  • 1. Select Location

    1. Select Location

    Choose one of several photo locations in the game

  • 2. Position your Camera

    2. Position your Camera

    Choose one of several starting positions for your camera. You can fine tune it later

  • 3. Position your car

    3. Position your car

    Choose your car\'s initial position for the shoot. You can also fine tune your car position, in the next step

  • 4. Fine tune car position, facing, and wheels facing

    4. Fine tune car position, facing, and wheels facing

    In this step, by pressing select, you can fine tune your car\'s position in the photo, including car\'s facing, headlights on/off, and turning the wheels left/right.

  • 5. Compose your shot

    5. Compose your shot

    Next step, you can move around the car, and try to find the best angle. When composing the shot, note that you can set different aperture, shutter speed, WB, focal length in pretty much same way as on a DSLR.

  • 6. Explore various camera settings

    6. Explore various camera settings

    In case you want more creative options, check camera options, for testing filter settings, aspect ratio, zoom level, etc.

  • 7. Shoot your photo

    7. Shoot your photo

    Final and most rewarding moment. The moment it clicks.

The process itself is quite simple (See slideshow above for more info):

  1. You select the car you want to shoot from the garage – note that only Premium cars are eligible for photo shoot mode. You can shoot other cars only in the replay mode, but in that case you are restricted to the location (racetrack).
  2. Select locale where you want to shoot – Select one of several detailed locations. Our favorite was an abbey near san galgano.
  3. Choose position of the camera – Select one of the preset camera positions. You can always fine tune it before you take a shot
  4. Choose position for the car – Select one of the preset car positions. You can always modify it in next step.
  5. Adjust the car position . This is fine tuning of your car’s position, including direction in which car is facing, turning the wheels as well as adjusting headlight settings
  6. Move around to find the best spot – Explore different positions/angles until you find the one that works best.
  7. Shoot your photo.

The cars and locations in gran turismo 5 look beautiful, and if you are an exotic car affection-ado you just might find yourself spending quite an amount of time in this mode. Let me share a few tips on how to photograph cars that i have learned that worked well (also in gt5).

7 tips on how to photograph cars


  1. Use lead-in lines

    Use lead-in lines to lead you to the car

    Shoot your car with short telephoto lens – This might sound counter-intuitive at first, but lens with shorter focal lengths tend to distort perspective a bit. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you want to emphasize some detail, but if you are just going for a car portrait, i have noticed that short telephoto (around 100 mm) usually works best

  2. Respect the Rule of thirds – If you are going for a classic car portrait, you might want to set it according to the rule of thirds, on some crossing. Pay special attention to the positive and negative space in the image.
  3. Shoot from the profile, and look for depth

    Shoot from the profile, and look for depth

    Respect the 3/4 rule – This rule is mostly used for people portraits, but also works on car portraits as well. The rule of thumb is to shoot the car from such an angle to see both lights, although that one of the lights is barely visible.

  4. Turn the wheels – if the car has nice rims, turn the wheels away slightly from the direction car is facing to emphasize the rims. This will add another point of interest to your car portrait.
  5. Vary the angle of your photos – we perceive cars as dynamic subjects, and therefore they benefit to be shot from dynamic angles. Do not be afraid to tilt your camera, you just might find that the car looks way more interesting from that angle. Typically, sports cars and muscle cars benefit from the lower angles, as it gives them more aggressive look.
  6. See what makes the car unique, then emphasize it – Try to look for unique elements, that would identify the car, and then emphasize them in your photos.
  7. Maserati - Front Grill

    Shoot for the detail

    Go for the detail – a car portrait is nice, but sometimes, even a hint of a specific car detail is enough. Sometimes less is more.

I hope this article has given you a few ideas of your own on how to shoot cars, just remember, just sometimes

You even don’t need a real car to shoot great car photos.

… as long as you have Playstation 3. 🙂
Below you will see  small gallery of photos i did in Gran Turismo 5, containing some extra tips. If you have ideas of your own on how to shoot cars, or a gallery of your own that you would like to show,  please let us know. Happy shooting.

  • Kubelwagen in Ahrweiler Town Square

    Kubelwagen in Ahrweiler Town Square

    This photo reminds me of a french \'Alo Alo series. I find kubelwagen works really well in this setting.

  • Ferrari 512BB in Bern

    Ferrari 512BB in Bern

    This photo was shot with \'virtual\' 135mm lens. Use short telephoto lens to avoid perspective distortion.

  • Lamborghini Murcielago in Bern

    Lamborghini Murcielago in Bern

    Low perspective works well on super sports cars, giving them aggressive look.

  • Go for the detail

    Go for the detail

    Sometimes, it\'s cool to go and look for the detail that makes the car unique. For example, if you check out the rim, Lamborghini logo is clearly visible, and the lights shape hint Murcielago.

  • Try to incorporate people in the shot

    Try to incorporate people in the shot

    By incorporating people in the shot you set the context for the photo. This girl for example, is talking on the phone, and by blurring her out creates interest by guessing, who is she.

  • Use Panning where available

    Use Panning where available

    Panning the camera is also available in the settings, but only when the car is moving, so you can experiment with it in replay mode.

  • Practice your action shots with GT5

    Practice your action shots with GT5

    Gran Turismo 5\'s replay facility, gives you a photo mode, where you can experiment with different action shots, and improve your action photography skills.

  • Experiment with angles

    Experiment with angles

    Cars (especially at speed) look very well under angle, as it gives the photo dynamic qualities. It\'s worth checking out

  • Put cars in the right context

    Put cars in the right context

    Try putting cars in the context they belong. E.g. Mazda MX-5 in front of japanese gardens, thus creating a story. It comes in handy in car portraits

  • Break the rules

    Break the rules

    In previous tip we advised to put the car in context. Do not be afraid to break the rules, if the settings work out.

  • Shoot from rear as well as front

    Shoot from rear as well as front

    Some cars look as attractive from rear as they do from the front. Try it out.

  • Shoot from above

    Shoot from above

    Some locations have a balcony view. This could be interesting for trying out a different angle, and giving the car more of on-street view.

  • Mind the reflections

    Mind the reflections

    GT5 really pushes the envelope with reflections and in-car detail. Use it to your advantage.

  • Cars in doorways

    Cars in doorways

    Check out the possibility to shoot some cars in doorways. Remember the background is equally important as the car.

  • Use lead-in lines

    Use lead-in lines

    All the rules of traditional photography apply, including using lead-in lines to accentuate your subject.

  • Experiment with angles

    Experiment with angles

    Try tilting your camera slightly. It just might work well.

  • Get in close

    Get in close

    Go for the detail, and hint what is the car in question. The front grill clearly hints Maserati.

  • Include people in the shot

    Include people in the shot

    Including people in the shot gives nice context to the car. I believe that this photo gives car a nice context. Hints success.

  • Extreme detail

    Extreme detail

    The cars in GT5 have been modeled down to the last detail. Kudos to the dev team.

  • Go Kart on the track

    Go Kart on the track

    Putting Go Kart on the track hopefully creates a sense of dynamicity, and speed. Mind your composition

  • Old and new

    Old and new

    Here i was trying to make a shot of modern car in front of an old bomber plane. Not sure if it worked well though.

  • Location is important

    Location is important

    Selecting the right location is very important, as you have to visualize how will the background work with the car. San galgano abbey is one of my favorite.

  • Shoot from the profile, and look for depth

    Shoot from the profile, and look for depth

    I though the archway gave this photo a nice illusion of depth. In addition i wanted to shoot Lamborghini from the profile to accentuate it\'s sleek curves.

  • Sometimes it works

    Sometimes it works

    ...other times not so well. The car looks ok on the background, but there is a sense of something missing.

  • Take the high road

    Take the high road

    When finding the best angle to shoot this Lamborghini, i could not help but notice the pattern on the floor. I recomposed, and i thinks it works quite well.

  • Lamborghini Miura - Detail

    Lamborghini Miura - Detail

    Detail shot in mid-race. I like the way the photo is still, yet the wheel spins rapidly

  • Use color to your advantage

    Use color to your advantage

    I had a bit of luck when racing with a yellow Miura, that an AI racer was just behind me in red Mercedes SLR. I like Yellow/Red compositions. It is also a nice example of rule of thirds.

For more great tips on how to Photograph Cars, see “How to Photograph Cars” guide at

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Category: Beginners Photography, Photography Lessons

About the Author (Author Profile)

Alan Graf is the editor and founder of Digital Photography Student. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is also editor of – a Croatian wallpaper archive, and his own photo gallery at

Comments (2)

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  1. hussnain asim says:

    i dont no how to turn the wheels when i take a picture

  2. Alan Graf says:


    When you select where the car will be (a point A, B , whatever), and start moving the camera around, you can press SELECT to fine-tune the car position. (says object movement map). After you press SELECT and move the car to the correct position press the triangle (labeled car options), and there you will have an option called Tyre angle. By adjusting that you can turn the wheels. On that panel you have also option to turn headlights on/off. The option is hidden a bit, but once you find it opens up more photo opportunities 🙂

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